Where would K-Pop fans be if Donald Trump wasn’t such a scandal? Remember the pre-Twitter ban days of Trump? The former POTUS would tweet something, contributing to his endless list of polarizing and dramatique content. Then, the replies would fill with videos of Korean pop stars dancing. The same phenomena happened whenever any blue-checkmark would Tweet something controversial. All of its retweets, quotes or replies had edited videos of people dancing. Fancams overtook Twitter and even influenced American justice. What did this mean?
A fancam is an edited video made by, of course, a fan. It centers around their favorite celebrity, usually just doing cute or funny stuff. When this concept first arose, fancams focused solely on concert footage of K-pop stars. Initially, it was mostly dancing or singing footage. Fancams required fan-shot material. If the content wasn’t fan-shot, it wasn’t a fancam. “Edits” were professional footage of K-pop stars, but fancams were the rough cuts. Originally, these types of videos were the subject of competition between K-pop fans. They’ve since progressed. At current time, any compilation footage of any celebrity with music overtop can be a fancam, even professional footage.
Why Are Fancams All Over the Place?
K-Pop fandoms are generally made up of young teenage girls, and they famously lean left in politics. Competition isn’t their aim when they post on a Ben Shapiro tweet, they want to siphon attention from him. K-Pop fans have long been utilizing their platforms to muddle the waters of Twitter’s search engine. This way, when someone looks up a polarizing current event, they don’t find political content. Instead, they find thousands of videos of Korean pop stars dancing.
During the final months of Trump’s presidency, during his election tour, fancams were everywhere. The attention and information from Trump’s and virtually any loud right-wing politician was quickly diverted. Any politician that was deemed harmful by fans had their tweets bombed with K-pop footage. Fancam creators took this job seriously, and would move quickly and in packs, even silently without politicians knowing what they were up to.
For example, Trump held a rally in June of 2020 which required people attending to sign up online. Attendees were to reserve seats weeks prior to the event. Trump’s team publicly announced these events. K-Pop fans en masse grouped together and booked out thousands of seats. Trump’s rally was more than half empty, months before the election. No one on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram or any other social media platform had much idea that this was going on, outside of the K-Pop fans. They communicated this plan through private messaging. Trump’s campaign team was none the wiser.
K-Pop fans used their fancams to pollute Twitter’s searches for BLM protestors who had their face uncovered. They did this to protected protestors from police who were looking for unmasked protestors to find and charge online. They packed the Dallas police’s iWatch app with endless dancing videos, rendering the app useless to police looking for protestors.
Direct Fancam Action
Fancams act as the younger generation’s equivalent of a protest sign. It’s a joke, a weaponized meme. They’ve progressed beyond K-pop-centric videos, especially in times of political unrest or change. While Bernie Sanders was still in the democratic primaries, K-pop fans made fancams of him. Videos of him playing basketball, running, dancing, laughing and smiling spread throughout Twitter.
Those who make fancams often criticize the people who they make content of. It’s a meme that makes light of and glorifies politicians to an excessive amount, making fun of how common media glorifies politicans in a serious capacity. The politicians are represented as cute parodies of themselves, rather than stern leaders who have never done wrong. Fancams satirize the campaigning that erases the flaws of the politician they support while genuinely supporting them. Fancams have just exaggerated this point to the extreme of infantilization. Politicians they support become childish, funny or silly.
When Biden was running against Trump, videos surfaced of Biden eating ice cream, dancing, and laughing. Additional videos of him holding his wife and hugging his kids showed up online. Fancams with photos of a young Biden popped up. Support for Biden in the fancam community was wide-spread. Biden transformed into a caricature of himself that was on par with a K-pop star. Fancammers were encouraging their American followers to vote and vote Blue come November.
Fancams aren’t just US-centric, either. Fancams of Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom and other UK politicians made Twitter appearances. K-pop fans from Canada made videos of Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau. Not all these videos are serious, many make fun of or infantilize the subject of the fancam.
Voter turnout for people aged 18-29 is typically between 42-44 percent. In America’s 2020 election, there was a massive spike in youth voter turnout. In fact, over half of the young population participated. Because of their turn out, youth vote carried Biden to victory, with over 65 per cent of young people voting Democrat. Issues the youth prioritized when voting were the coronavirus pandemic and its handling, systemic racism in America, and climate change.
The pandemic has given ample time to young people to explore more online than they had before. Everyone’s phone constantly reminds them of their average screen time. This time had gone up exponentially, and social media became even more utilized. Countless news stories rose about various events that took place on social media. The exposure to social media and the influence of opinions of others on social media influenced the younger generation to care about their pressing concerns.
Vigilante Justice Online
Rebellions have and always will exist in any society. The internet and social media have given rise to cyber revolutions or political attacks. In January, millions of people invested millions into cheap stocks to spite the hedge funds that had been shorting the market, taking money from earnest investors, for decades. Similarly, K-pop fans have been using their platforms for the same form of justice and political action.
Fancams may not have had the biggest influence on the election, though they perhaps did have an impact on the PR of the candidates. But, they did have huge influence in other political realms. The future might hold other forms of justice or political action online. Those not accustomed to technology might not understand political lingo. Cyber-lingo has fundamentally changed the way we act, speak and even think, and this exists in a social and political environment. Regardless, fancams have demonstrated that political action online, even if done in jest, can have serious implications. If anything, it proves the more jovial a group makes politics, the more action will likely be made.
Feature Image from Pier Muller on Unsplash